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Title:Communication Between an Early Childhood Program and the Families It Serves
Author(s):Mendoza, Jean A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Katz, Lilian G.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Sociology of
Abstract:The exchange of information and other resources through communication activity is a key component of the relationships between families with young children and the staff of programs that serve them. The communication practices of staff members and family members are seldom the focus of research, although the substantial body of professional literature on communicating effectively with families suggests that interest in such practices may be high. This study of program-family communication at one Midwestern school district's "model" early childhood employed qualitative methods to: (a) discern trends related to official and informal communication practices at the site, (b) examine consistency between those practices and the program's stated vision and goals, and (c) investigate the possible impact of global, national, state, local, and program-level contexts on the interactions among families and staff in the program. Research methods used in this study included observation at the program site and in the community, interviews with staff and family members, surveys of program personnel and family members, and analysis of documents generated by the staff. Several trends in communication activity were identified regarding the methods of communication, the content of communication, the uses and complementary nature of official and "person-to-person" communication, and the types of challenges staff and families encountered in their efforts to communicate with each other. Consistency was noted between the communication policies and practices of the staff and some aspects of the program's vision statement and school improvement plan related to program-family interactions. Contemporary patterns of migration into the U.S. were among the contextual conditions found to influence communication activity in the program; a relatively high percentage of the program's target population had home languages other than English. Another contextual factor was local school district support for early childhood programming. Recommendations for the program include continuing those communication activities that personnel and family members seem to consider favorably. Recommendations for policy-makers include critical re-examination of assumptions underlying Title 1 policies regarding "parent involvement" in children's education. Suggestions for further research include creation of interdisciplinary research agendas regarding communication between families with young children and the programs that serve them.
Issue Date:2005
Description:345 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3182328
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2005

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